Open main menu

HARLEY, JOHN (d. 1558), bishop of Hereford, was probably born at Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire (Willis, Survey of Hereford Cathedral, p. 521). He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, of which he was probationer-fellow from 1537 to 1542. He graduated B.A. on 5 July 1536, and M. A. on 4 June 1540 (Oxf. Univ. Reg., Oxf. Hist. Soc., i. 186). He was master of Magdalen School from 1542 to August 1548, when he became chaplain to John Dudley, earl of Warwick, and tutor to his children. During Lent 1547 he preached at St. Peter's-in-the-East, Oxford, a very bold sermon against the pope, which, in the then unsettled state of religious affairs, alarmed the university authorities. Harley was hastily summoned to London to be examined on a charge of heresy, but when the king's views were ascertained he was speedily liberated (Bloxam, Reg. of Magd. Coll. Oxford, ii. xlii-xliii). He became rector of Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire, on 9 May 1550 (Nash, Worcestershire, ii. 448), being then B.D. and vicar of Kidderminster in the same county, and incumbent of Maiden Bradley, Wiltshire, on the following 30 Sept. (ib. ii. 56; Hoare, Wiltshire, Mere, p. 95). Edward VI made him his chaplain in 1551, and sent him, along with five other chaplains distinguished for their preaching, on an evangelising tour throughout England. On 9 March 1552 he received a prebend at Worcester (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, iii. 87). During the same year he was considered likely to succeed Owen Oglethorpe as president of Magdalen College, but he lost the election through his reputed laziness and love of money. On 26 May 1553 he was consecrated bishop of Hereford (ib. i. 468), was deprived on 19 March 1554 for his protestantism (Rymer, Foedera, fol., xv. 370), and died in 1558. Leland (Encomia, p. 163) praises Harley for his virtues and learning.

[Wood's Athenae Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 768-71; Bloxam's Reg. of Magd. Coll. Oxford, iii. 97-106.]

G. G.